(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Medicine prescribing methods will be updated under a national drug policy that is currently being developed for the country, according to an official from the health ministry.
The move is being taken to reduce medicine wastage and promote rational drug use. A pharmacy law is also being finalised.
The drug policy will be part of a wider National Health Policy that is also being readied with the help of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said Dr Fatima Al Braiki, Director of the Drug Registration and Drug Control Department at the Health Ministry.
The national policy will streamline issues such as accreditation of practitioners, strengthen primary healthcare services, oversee controlled drug lists, update treatment protocols and educate consumers, among others.
"Practitioners are prescribing medicines irrationally and using brand names to prescribe drugs," she said while addressing a seminar on 'Promoting Rational Drug Use' organised by the ministry on Tuesday.
Patients, on the other hand, are indulging in self-medication and not adhering to prescriptions, hence contributing to drug wastage, she said.
While treatment guidelines are being standardised for practitioners to avoid drug duplication and limit waste, the ministry has plans to educate the public on rational drug usage. "Patients in the UAE overuse vitamins, analgesics and tonics thinking they are safe. They also misuse antibiotics and injections and this irrational use is harmful to health," explained Dr Fatima.
The ministry is yet to overcome a number of challenges, she added.
"We have a low number of studies on drug utilisation and drug research in the country though we have accepted a few clinical trials," said the doctor. Counterfeit drugs, unethical promotions, new drugs and availability on the Internet also remain major concerns.
Dr Amin Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for Medical Practice and Licensing, said quoting WHO that 50 per cent of prescriptions are wrong while the other 50 per cent of prescribed medicines are misused by patients. "Pharmacists should help patients," he urged.
The UAE's drug market expenditure is 280 (Dh1,028) per capita. "This means that either there is high drug accessibility/affordability or there is irrational drug use," said Dr Ola Ghaleb Al Ahdab, Pharmaceutical Advisor at the ministry.
"This needs to be investigated."
She also said that the drug market had increased by 300 per cent over the past six years.
The ministry plans to increase use of generic drugs and ease availability through an insurance plan. "This will mean optimal drug use and affordability," added Dr Fatima.